Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Mathis)

Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1973
Raised—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Education—New York University, Temple University, and
   The New School (no degree); Iowa Writers' Workshop
Currently—lives in Brooklyn, New York, New York

Ayana Mathis emerged from a low-income background, raised by as single mother in Philadelphia. Growing up with little around her, the thought of a stable career always seemed to beckon in the back of her mind of what she thought her mother would want her to do. Her mother, however, did the opposite—she pushed her to pursue her talent of writing.... In her twenties, Mathis took up poetry, however, her motivation to keep toiling with words didn’t last for long. She had a day job as a waitress and worked as a fact-checker at a magazine, while she continued to write in her spare time. When she felt like she couldn’t write poetry anymore, Mathis gave up on writing and years passed before she would pick up the pen again. (From Ebony.)

She attended New York University, Temple University and the New School without earning an undergraduate degree. “I sort of wandered off,” she said. She took writing courses and mostly wrote poetry, never considering herself a fiction writer. An avid traveler, she even ended up living in Italy for four years, learning the language and acquiring some cooking skills. A year or so after her return to New York she found her way to a private creative writing class taught by Jackson Taylor, a novelist. She was still bouncing around at fact-checking jobs. “She came to the class with the skills of the magazine—deadline, fluidity, structure,” Mr. Taylor said. “But then she blossomed in a forum where she could explore and explode her poetic gifts. (From New York Times.)

In 2009 she attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and began to work on a fictionalized memoir. But after getting a reality check on a story she wrote—a critique from her instructor, Marilynne Robinson—Ayana decided to work on some short stories instead...not knowing that they would become the beginnings of the The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. (From Huffington Post.)

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